Ecuador announced their squad for the upcoming World Cup with a big, big surprise. Coach Gustavo Alfaro decided to leave Byron Castillo out of the team to avoid future legal battles related to the player's eligibility.
Why was Byron Castillo left out of Ecuador's World Cup roster?
In case you missed it, Chile filed a complaint with FIFA in April, pointing out that Castillo was not Ecuadorean but Colombian and that every time he represented the country, both were violating the rules of eligibility written on the soccer books. Hence, they should not be in Qatar.
FIFA rebuffed the Chilean claim. And earlier this month, the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) followed up on the decision, confirming Ecuador's spot in the World Cup and that Castillo was indeed Ecuadorean.
However, next to the resolution, there was a big asterisk.
According to CAS, Castillo got his Ecuadorean citizenship using a "document containing false information," imposing a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (about 105,000 dollars) and deducting Ecuador three points for the 2026 World Cup qualifier.
The decision also left many questions on the Ecuadorean football federation, FEF. What if Castillo plays another game for the country? Are other countries going to complain? Should we name Castillo in the World Cup squad and take the risk?
Without answers and the pressing deadline to name their final roster (Nov. 14), they finally opted to drop him from the squad.
#ComunicadoOficial - #ByronCastillo— FEF (@FEFecuador) November 15, 2022
"Incomprehensibly, the TAS ruling – which recognizes the player's eligibility – illegitimately cast doubts regarding the content of his passport that could put at risk not only the advancement of the team in this World Cup but also compromise his participation in the next edition," said the FEF in a press release.
The player somehow knew what was coming and published several stories on his Instagram account, lashing out at the press and the sensationalism built around his case, using the song "Todos quieren a Raymond" (Everybody loves Raymond) from Daddy Yankee.
But at the end of the day, he also sent a message of support to his teammates.
"I'm proud of you, guys. I love you and you are the world to me. Let's go with faith, I bet all on you. My dream is not over. I'm still on my feet and holding against everything. I love all of this and if my life was not like this, it would be pretty boring."
“Apuesto todo a Uds.. me encantan todo esto si no fuera así mi vida fuera aburrida”Este es parte del mensaje que deja Byron Castillo en su red de Instagram. pic.twitter.com/rttLvpAFIS
— TERADEPORTES (@Teradeportes) November 15, 2022
Ecuador World Cup squad 2022
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Hernan Galindez (Aucas), Moises Ramirez (Independiente del Valle).
Defenders: Pervis Estupinan (Brighton & Hove Albion), Angelo Preciado (Gent), Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen), Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders), Diego Palacios (Los Angeles FC), Jackson Porozo (Troyes), Robert Arboleda (Sao Paulo), Felix Torres (Santos Laguna), William Pacho (Royal Antwerp FC)
Midfielders: Moises Caicedo (Brighton), Jose Cifuentes (Los Angeles FC), Alan Franco (Talleres), Jhegson Mendez (Los Angeles FC), Carlos Gruezo (Augsburg), Gonzalo Plata (Valladolid), Angel Mena (Leon), Ayrton Preciado (Santos Laguna), Romario Ibarra (Pachuca), Jeremy Sarmiento (Brighton)
Forwards: Enner Valencia (Fenerbahce), Michael Estrada (Cruz Azul), Djorkaeff Reasco (Newell's Old Boys), Kevin Rodriguez (Imbabura SC)
Aquí están los 26 jugadores elegidos por el DT #GustavoAlfaro para jugar la @fifaworldcup_es, estamos listos para hacer historia @PilsenerEcuador❤️ ¡Un solo latido que representa a 18 millones de ecuatorianos! #HaremosHistoria pic.twitter.com/xy1grHHBAc
— La Tri (@LaTri) November 14, 2022